Three weeks ago in this space, I made what I thought was a big ask. I called for a dozen volunteers to spend one evening a month with me throughout 2024 at the Bucks County Herald’s office in Plumstead to talk about journalism, our communities, and how the Herald can best serve them.
I was floored by both the number and the quality of the responses. Sixty-eight readers from Bucks County and the portion of Hunterdon County that the Herald covers asked for more information and a questionnaire. Of those, 58 applied to be on the Bucks County Herald Reader Advisory Panel.
All 58 would have been excellent panelists. The Herald will convene a new group in 2025. I encourage those who were not selected this year to consider reapplying next year.
But to pare the list down, hard decisions had to be made. The first was to rule out anyone I already knew. The second, given the intensity of the 2024 election cycle, was to make sure the panel was balanced politically. Then we looked for a range of ages, incomes, educational backgrounds, Zip Codes and, as best we could, tried to avoid creating an all-white, all-heterosexual board.
Here’s a quick overview of how we did.
The panel is composed of 13 people — seven men and six women. Politically, four lean right, four lean left, and five view themselves as moderates.
Six are retired, seven are either working or looking for work. Eleven live in Bucks County, two live in Hunterdon County.
Something else we looked for was representation in a variety of school districts in Bucks County.
Three panelists live in the Central Bucks School District. Three live in New Hope-Solebury. Three live in Pennridge.
The panel has one member each from the Council Rock and Quakertown Community school districts. We hope to do better here next year.
Without further ado, the members of the first Bucks County Herald Reader Advisory Panel (in alphabetical order) are:
• Lauren Bahry, Perkasie
• Nancy Ball, Milford
• Joseph Blei, Doylestown Twp.
• Bruce Harris, Stockton, N.J.
• Carole Levin, Bedminster
• Michael Miciak, Everittstown, N.J.
• Victoria Nedza, Chalfont
• Ted Nichols, Buckingham
• Liza Fisher Norman, Upper Makefield
• Jerry O’Brien, Dublin
• Niraj Patel, Solebury
• Robin Seiz, Solebury
• John S. Williford, Solebury
It looks like a good group to me. I can’t wait to meet them later this month and I anticipate we’ll engage in a series of candid, productive conversations that’ll help the Herald chart its course for the upcoming year and beyond.
John Anastasi is editor-in-chief of the Bucks County Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.